November 26, 2014


Cold blamed for decline in Goodwill donations

Jake Sukel and Amanda Davis sort clothing donations Monday at Goodwill Industries’ retail store on Cooper Foster Park Road in Lorain. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Jake Sukel and Amanda Davis sort clothing donations Monday at Goodwill Industries’ retail store on Cooper Foster Park Road in Lorain. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Donations to Goodwill Industries of Lorain County are down this winter, which Goodwill officials attribute to the severe cold, and say it could impact their jobs programs.

“When you donate to Goodwill, we’re going to use that to create jobs in the community,” said Steve Greenwell, Goodwill CEO and president. “Not just the people we hire, but training people and working to find people who are unemployed work in the community.”

In January 2013, Greenwell said Goodwill had about 7,000 donors at its stores in Avon, Avon Lake, Elyria, Lorain, North Ridgeville, Oberlin and Vermilion. In January of this year, there were about 5,500 donors, a 21 percent decrease.

Greenwell said people are less likely to make donations or shop at the stores when temperatures are in the single digits or below zero. However, 80 percent of services provided by Goodwill come from profits generated by donations.

“We’re hoping to remind people just how important those donations are,” Greenwell said.

Goodwill, which has a $3.9 million annual budget and a combined 160 full- and part-time employees, contracts with local businesses for Goodwill workers to do assembly work in Elyria and Lorain. Janitorial work, packaging and transportation are also provided.

Corey Greenwell sorts through clothing donations at Goodwill Industries.

Corey Greenwell sorts through clothing donations at Goodwill Industries.

Goodwill runs job training classes for ex-convicts three times per month in conjunction with the Lorain County Department of Adult Probation. Work for Success, a 30-hour-per-week, eight-week program involving classroom and on-the-job training at Goodwill sites, helps welfare recipients find work. The program is run in conjunction with Ohio’s Department of Job and Family Services.

The Job Club — two-hour classes in which participants prepare resumes and prep for interviews — runs three times per week. The Job Club is free and open to the public without appointments.

Goodwill also runs job fairs in April and October that average about 400 job seekers and dozens of employers. Nearly 10 percent of job fair applicants were hired within two weeks of the fairs, according to Greenwell.

Greenwell and Craig Grugel, Goodwill retail manager, said some people may be reluctant to donate clothing in poor condition, but it is welcomed. While not sold in stores, Goodwill sells it to salvage yards and did about $300,000 in salvage sales last year. Grugel said the recycled goods mean less clothing dumped in landfills, improving the environment.

Greenwell urged people to donate at stores or at boxes that are clearly marked as Goodwill boxes. Greenwell said some for-profit companies place boxes that look similar to Goodwill boxes in the community, decreasing donations.

Goodwill had about 90,000 donors last year. Each donation works out to about four hours’ worth of employment services, Grugel said. Fewer donations also mean fewer sales and less sales tax revenue for Ohio.

“Without the back-door (donations), there really is no front door in this business,” Grugel said. “It really has a snowballing effect.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or

  • Arietta Sullivan

    I’ve learned something new today.I had no idea Goodwill does all this community care with donations made to them.I thought the help they do came,directly,from the company.I understand Salvation Army does help too, for the community but a lot of their stuff is pricey,for being a thrift store.The best&only profitable day for a person to save money is on Wednesday.i saw some of the same items at the Army stores,priced higher or the same price, that would be sold at wal-mart or the dollar stores but it’s brand new. I’ve helped Salvation Army out for years now,i’m going to aim now to help the Goodwill stores.i’ll be helping,not just the community,but my pocket too. :)

  • WTFnext

    All of it isn’t a lack of donations. It is a lack of donations making it to the sales floor. Those employees take a lot of the “back door donations” out the back door. I know someone who brags about all of the free stuff they get by working there. Then they have outrageous prices on the junk to make up for the stuff they didn’t sell because the employees are siphoning. It is pretty bad when you can buy clothes brand new off of the clearance rack at Kohl’s and other stores than you can buy the used junk at Goodwill. So, why would you want to shop there. Personally, I can’t wait for summer and the garage sales.

    • K Gi

      BIG thanks for exposing this! The Amherst/Lorain & Avon Goodwills are well known for donations going out the back door and into employees’ cars. How do I know this? I know someone that worked there and got FIRED for saying something about it.

      Go into any Lorain County Goodwill and you will find nothing but pure, 100% junk… yet go into any Cuyahoga County or Erie County Goodwill and you will run into a gold mine.

      • K Gi

        Oh, and the craziest part is when you know people that donated good stuff to them and it never made it to the sales floor. That’s when you know the employees are taking stuff.

        • Erin Triplett

          And how would one KNOW that it never made it to the sales floor? House wares are pushed out to the sales floor in shopping carts. Customers love this :) They swarm the carts as soon as they hit the sales floor. Sometimes, leaving nothing in the cart to put away. Just because YOU do not see it, does not mean that it never hit the shelves.

      • Erin Triplett

        Nothing but junk? I beg to differ. If it was nothing but “pure 100% junk” we would not make the money that we do to fund/support all of our programs. Usually when someone gets fired, they aren’t going to be 100 percent honest with the reason why they were terminated.

    • Arietta Sullivan

      i agree with you.the employees at salvation army has the same opportunity as the goodwill employees does,as in,’having first picks’.it’s not right,i do understand but either way,honestly,when i’m cleaning out my house,i don’t care who takes it,i just know i have a place to get rid of unwanted stuff.i would rather do it this way then throw it out,in which,i’ve been known to do cause i have no patience with clutter in my i don’t have patience with having a yard sale so that’s why i just dispose of my junk.

    • beety

      That’s horrible! I will never ” donate” to them again! They might as well go take it straight out of the hands of those that truly need it.

    • Erin Triplett

      You know SOMEONE. Not EVERYONE who works for the company. I work for the company as an assistant manager. At my store, we have a ZERO tolerance for stealing, and taking things “out the back door” is stealing. We also have a strict employee purchase policy. We do not allow our employees to purchase ANYTHING unless they are off the clock. They cannot make purchases during the lunch breaks, and they cannot buy items unless they have been on the sales floor for at least one week. We are beginning colored tag sales so, we can determine how long an item has been on the sales floor according to the color of it’s tag. Our prices are no different than other thrift stores. Sometimes they are even cheaper. The “junk” we sell provides jobs for numerous individuals, helps funds our various programs, and helps us give back to YOUR community. That is why we exist. Sure, you can go to Kohls and buy things on clearance. But where is that money going? To some major corporation, or back into the community?

    • Erin Triplett

      What are you doing hanging out with someone who is a thief, anyhow?

  • Jennifer Williams

    This is insanity. I would not donate nor buy anything from Goodwill ever again.
    Are you aware that people are poor? They pay their store employees crap but yet the CEO make millions? That is wrong and what is wrong with this company.

    • guest

      I agree, I go to goodwill but never find anything. Sometimes I’ll find something and it was a purse but they priced it at $25, and it wasn’t a designer purse whatsoever.

  • Chance

    Very True I know for a fact the workers take the good items for themselves.

    • Jennifer Williams

      It is all the same we went to that Habitat for humanity restore in Lorain when it first opened it’s doors to buy a fridge that they posted after closing we were the first ones in the door and low and behold both the Fridges that we looked at were still there but with SOLD signs on them. I guess it is just who you know and blow these days.

  • jim jananavin

    Funny that people accuse workers of theft but do nothing about it… Maybe the ones that are bragging about taking things out the back door are the ones that are stealing from Goodwill and NOT the stores as a whole. I have been to all of the Goodwill’s in this northern Ohio area and the few around here are they are some of the best, cleanest and well stocked stores of them all. I went to the one on Pearl in Middleburg Heights and they wanted 20 bucks for a pair of jeans because they still had the tag on them and that price tag was for $19.99 with a red clearance tag for $9.99… Go figure. Before you brag about knowing that a store “in whole” is stealing stuff out the back door, you should get your facts straight.. AND Further more… Get some better friends!! My friends would never steal from a Goodwill let alone BRAG about it!

    • Bongs&Thongs!!

      What are we to do? If there was leadership there would be accountability, but it is lacking both.
      The only thing we can do is stop donating and hope they go out of business at the expense of the less fortunate.

    • Erin Triplett

      Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! Could not have said it better myself!

  • Bill

    I know the Oberlin location isn’t lacking in donations. I dropped some stuff of there last week and they have a huge, huge pile of stuff that has yet to be processed. Same every time I drop off there.

  • beety

    Better for everyone if you contact women’s shelters, homeless shelters or any non profit organization to truly donate! Not fair they charge for the stuff that would likely be thrown out if there were no place to take it…

  • Sis Delish

    In Obama’s world, this is Utopia… second-hand everything for a second-class country. Was this his “gift” to Elyria on his two visits during the little mayor’s tenure? Just wondering…